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September 1, 2014 / 6 Elul, 5774
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55 Years Since 1948

There are many things that come to mind as Israel marks 55 years since it won its independence in 1948. If nothing else, Israel has demonstrated that Jews, given even less than half a chance, can collectively rise to the very peak of human achievement. We Jews have always contributed to mankind in much greater proportion than our numbers would suggest,
wherever we found ourselves. But it is in Israel, where Jews have organized a state, which after a mere 55 years, has fostered wondrous achievements in virtually all areas of human
endeavor, that what we are capable of is so obvious.

In a region of the world overrun with militaristic dictatorships that threaten its very existence, Israel has blossomed as a democracy.

In the midst of an Arab world with natural resources that stagger the imagination, Israel, with its relatively meager wherewithal, continues to distinguish itself with the impressive output of its economy and industry.

Israel’s scientific discoveries and technological breakthroughs are truly the envy of the world, even if grudgingly so.

But it is in their modern role as the People of the Book, seeking fulfillment of the Biblical grant of Eretz Yisrael to the Jewish people, that the Jews of Israel make a truly unique statement. By their sacrifice and perseverance, they have already made possible continued Jewish settlement in the Holy Land. And they have already made possible the flourishing – and ingathering - of Torah learning amidst a sea of fundamentalist Islamic hordes bent on destroying the infidels.

We weep for the more than 21,000 souls - soldiers and civilians – who perished in the defense of Israel in the past 55 years. And there are perilous times ahead. Yet we take solace in the knowledge that there is a Creator, and promises were made….

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